Amid all the blog-way blather and back and forth over the Lieberman-Lamont Senate Race to be decided today in Connecticut, Democrats appear to be at risk of missing the point.
What's important in this race is not whether "establishment Democrats" or the "netroots" emerge victorious. What really matters are the reasons that Connecticut voters appear to be so disgusted with Lieberman in the first place, and that those reasons have implications for the upcoming Congressional elections.
Joe Lieberman is not in trouble because liberal bloggers don't like him. The former vice presidential candidate is in danger of losing his Senate seat because of his support for the war in Iraq, and his support of an amazingly unpopular president Bush. Sixty-three percent of Connecticut voters say that going to war in Iraq was the wrong thing to do and 68 percent disapprove of the job President George W. Bush is doing, according to a July survey by Quinnipiac University.
While the national numbers are stunning, The publics opposition to the war in Iraq and their dissatisfaction with the president are particularly intriguing in states with competitive House and Senate races. Of the races identified by the Cook Political Report as toss ups, virtually all of them are in states with where public opinion is similar to Connecticut's in terms of their disapproval of President Bush and his policies. For example, in the closely watched Senate race in Pennsylvania, 65 percent of voters give President Bush a negative job approval rating, in Tennessee, 57 percent say they disapprove of the job the president is doing, according to Survey USA. Candidates for the House of Representative face the same phenomena even in states previously thought of as supportive of the President, such as Ohio where 65 percent of residents give Bush a thumbs down, and Florida, where 62 percent of voters disapprove of his job performance.
Hopefully a Lamont victory will help the Democrats catch up with American voters. According to the Washington Post/ABC news poll 38 percent of voters say they are more likely to oppose candidates who support President Bush on Iraq. Only the election results will tell us if Joe Lieberman is going to get a very hard lesson in this reality. But if Lamont wins, Democrats across the nation should get the message that President Bush and his war in Iraq are very unpopular and voters are looking for an alternative.